Ban use of public lands for private gains- Lands Minister proposes

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor — Minister of Lands and Natural Resources
Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor — Minister of Lands and Natural Resources

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor, has advocated a total ban or a freeze on the granting of public lands for private individuals until further notice.

In the estimation of the minister, a freeze on the granting of public land for private purposes would help preserve the resource for future generations.

"I have made it clear to the Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission my position on this matter, and I want to state publicly that the protection and preservation of public lands is one that must be done responsibly.

"I have a big appetite for a total ban or freeze on the grant of public lands until further notice," he said.

The minister stated this at a staff durbar organised by the Lands Commission in Accra yesterday.

The durbar was a platform for the minister to interact with the staff of the commission on a wide range of issues ranging from staff welfare, conditions of work, the challenges to land administration and policy direction going forward.

Mr Samuel Abu Jinapor (2nd left), Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, in a tête-à-tête with Mr James Dadson (left), Ag. Executive Secretary, Lands Commission. Those with them are Mr Benito Owusu-Bio (2nd right), a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, and Mr Jones Ofori Boadu (right), Deputy Executive Secretary, Lands Commission. Picture: NII MARTEY M. BOTCHWAY

Collective responsibility

Mr Jinapor said while the possibility of freezing the granting of public lands for private use was being explored, the ministry would work with all stakeholders in the land value chain to protect state lands.

The minister stressed that the current situation where state lands were handled as though they were private property would no longer be countenanced.

 He said the Constitution placed a duty on the President to hold all state lands in trust for the people of Ghana, and having been appointed as the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, he had the responsibility to help the President to fulfill that mandate.

"Knowing the responsibility placed on me as the sector minister, I want to state that encroachment on public lands must be a thing of the past; we cannot continue on that path," he stressed.

Reforms

Mr Jinapor urged the Lands Commission and its regional officers to implement reforms, including the digitisation of its services, to ensure effective and efficient land administration.

Those reforms, he said, would ensure that the various development initiatives by the government and private sector were carried out.

"All talks about Ghana Beyond Aid, Agenda 111 and building prosperity for Ghana cannot be possible if investors come into the country and cannot register titles to lands or be assured that if they buy land, they are not buying litigation," he said.

Vested lands

For his part, the Ag. Executive Secretary of the Lands Commission, Mr Arthur Dadson, said the commission had started the process to divest all vested lands across the country.

He said a committee had already been deployed to the Bono, Western and Central regions to engage stakeholders as part of the first phase of devesting the vested lands.

"I am sure that by December 2021, full details of phase one, which is the engagement process, will be made available," he said.

Mr Dadson assured the minister and members of the public that the Lands Commission was ready to vigorously pursue the digitisation agenda to make land administration efficient.

He also assured the staff of the commission that steps were being taken to address their concerns.